Marcus Mariota hit Josh Huff with a 12-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left to put the 12th-ranked Ducks up by a point Friday night. The Beavers got the ball back, but Oregon's pumped-up defense held on for a 36-35 victory over the valiant Beavers.
While there was obvious disappointment in the loss, Oregon State took pride in making it a close game.
"I'm proud of my guys," cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said. "We worked and we didn't give up. We got down early, 14-0, and I'm sure everybody else thought the game was over, but we kept pushing."
There were certainly more positives to take away than last weekend, when the Beavers were demoralized by a 69-27 loss at home to Washington.
"I was totally devastated and disappointed in myself, my staff, my team, and I think it was absolutely essential we just come out and play good football. I told them, 'Don't even look at the scoreboard until the end because we've got to play better and play with enthusiasm and passion,'" Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "Now we can all look in the mirror and look at each other and be proud of your team."
Mariota threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns — all to Huff, who had nine catches for a season-high 186 yards — and the Ducks (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) sealed their sixth straight 10-win season. It was also the team's sixth consecutive victory over the Beavers in the series.
With the Ducks holding a 24-23 lead, the Beavers scored on Sean Mannion's 4-yard pass to Tyler Anderson to pull in front 29-24 early in the fourth quarter. But Oregon answered with Mariota's fourth-and-11 pass to Huff for a 12-yard touchdown and the Ducks took a 30-29 lead with 7:56 left.
Victor Bolden ran for a 25-yard touchdown to put the Beavers ahead 35-30 with 1:38 remaining, but Oregon State's defense couldn't stop the Ducks on their final drive.
Mannion passed for 314 yards and two touchdowns for the Beavers (6-6, 4-5), who ended the season on a five-game losing streak, their worst since dropping six straight to conclude the 1997 season.
Freshman Thomas Tyner rushed for 141 yards and another score for Oregon, which finished undefeated at home for the first time since 2010. The Ducks were coming off a deflating 42-16 loss at Arizona last weekend that ended their Pac-12 and national title hopes.
The Beavers were thwarted on the opening drive of the game when Mannion threw into the end zone on fourth-and-1 to Cooks and was intercepted by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
Cooks is one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award as the country's best receiver. He went into Friday night leading the nation with 141.8 yards per game.
Following the interception, the Ducks drove 80 yards on seven plays, capped by De'Anthony Thomas' 5-yard touchdown dash to give Oregon a 7-0 lead. Tyner added a 13-yard scoring run before the first quarter was over.
Storm Woods scored on a 2-yard run for the Beavers to make it 14-7. Trevor Romaine added an 18-yard field goal with 2:33 left in the first half. The Beavers got close again before the break, but Mannion's pass to Cooks was fumbled into the end zone for a touchback, and the Beavers came away with nothing.
Reynolds intercepted Mariota on Oregon's ensuing drive and the Beavers went on to score on Mannion's 6-yard pass to Terron Ward to make it 17-all at halftime.
Oregon State pulled in front 20-17 on Romaine's 47-yard field goal to open the second half. But on the next drive, Mariota took off on a 21-yard run before finding Huff with a 28-yard touchdown pass to regain the lead.
Ward slipped on the turf on fourth-and-1 at the Oregon 5, and the Beavers missed a key opportunity to go back ahead. But they closed to 24-23 early in the fourth on Romaine's 37-yard field goal.
Oregon State was one of nine Pac-12 teams vying for a spot in the conference's seven bowl games.
"We'll let everyone else take care of that," Mannion said about the team's bowl prospects. "We were trying to win this game today and we come up short, but we're not concerned with all of that. Other people can think about that."